BY HOWARD TEICH
Published in the Long Island Jewish World Vol45 #48 December 23, 2016. Page 6/12.
The Republican National Committee Platform referred to Israel as an exceptional country, a bastion of liberty. In its language, it removed the call for a two-state solution, sending that choice back to Israel and its neighbors. It called Jerusalem the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish State, and it no longer condemned settlement development
Seeing these words, one can imagine a great and optimistic future for Israel, an opportunity to move along an enlightened agenda for our Jewish Community and for Israel, one that we have not seen as a possibility for many years. And I say that can happen if we stand with newly-elected President Donald Trump, and with the Republican Congress, on Israel. Let’s commit to making that happen now.
Yes, it is a hope, perhaps a dream, and not a promise nor a done deal. Nothing is. And I know I will have mystified many of my friends and colleagues with that thought. After all, I am a Democrat and supported Hillary, and yet from the Conventions on, it became more and more clear to me that the election of Donald Trump with a Republican Congress would best serve Israel. And, that’s what we have.
Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, declared by Israel in 1950, and yet that has not been universally accepted, not even here in the United States of America. I want to throw out a best hope, right up front, yes a request of, and challenge for President-Elect Trump and for the Jewish community in America. President after president have committed to moving the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and yet once they are elected President they go back on their word. Although the 104th Congress enacted the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 to move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem by 1999, and it has been sent to each President since then, none have signed off on it, each taking a six-month waiver provision.
My hope, my dream would be that President-elect Trump would sign off on the move of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem in his first hundred days, and that we celebrate this extraordinary event in May, 2017, the 50th Anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. It should happen, and certainly would be part of the new thinking in Washington DC, and we cannot expect it to happen without our support in the hinterland. We know we can no longer count on our mainstream Jewish organizations for such actions. That’s why a group of us have started to organize an effort to stand with President Trump in getting this done.
Why such hopes, and such dreams? Clearly, President-elect Trump, his history and family are key to this, adding in the Republican Platform on Israel, and the control of the Congress by the Republicans who have been firm friends of Israel for many years now, both in their words and deeds. The time is just right. So, I continue my wish list.
I welcome the indication from the Trump people that they will not be looking at settlements in the same way as previous Administrations, for that is our future. This false issue has been raised as an obstacle to peace for years now. There is plenty of land for everyone, and I say the Jewish community has every right to be on the land of Judea and Samaria, its homeland. And as we know, even if it were suggested that peace was on the horizon with the Palestinian Arabs requiring some rearrangement of the settlements, certainly by Israel’s previous actions that could be done, although I would oppose it. Simply put, settlements are not, nor ever were, an obstacle to peace.
For over a decade, I have called for a declaration of sovereignty, or the annexation of Judea and Samaria, and I have not been alone in this, although many in our community have fully opposed this possibility for peace. Recently I was interviewed by Rabbi Mark Golub on JBSTV, and he asked me the question, how as a centrist-liberal Democrat could I have my position on Judea and Samaria – that it was not consistent. I answered that it was 100% consistent, particularly when you consider a Palestinian Arab demand for peace that no Jews remain in Judea and Samaria. You see I reject the reality that a Jew should be limited from living anywhere, just as in America, long ago our U.S. Supreme Court rejected the possibility that someone should not be able to purchase a house in a certain neighborhood, among other reasons, because of the color of their skin, or their religion.
Many of today’s so-called Jewish leaders are opposed to my views, and I would hope that as we move beyond the Obama Era and into the Trump Era, their significance wanes. The shadow of people like George Soros, and the group of puppets that he has controlled in undercutting real pro-Israel sentiment in America, will now have to accept a new, brighter future. I would expect that the influence of organizations like J-Street and its self-proclaimed Jewish leader will be on the decline, as the light shines again.
And what a perfect time of year to have the Trump Administration prepare to govern in America, as we celebrate the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah. Last year I wrote of the miracles of Hanukkah that we celebrate during this wonderful Festival, and that I saw it as not just a celebration of the Maccabees and the duration of the oil burning, rather as a celebration of our continuing miracles and the victories of our Jewish people in our extraordinary history, and the light that we bring to ourselves and to the world. I envision three groupings of candles when I look at the Menorah this year.
We light the first candles for all that have come before our time. We remember and celebrate Judah Maccabee leading a rebel army, the Maccabees, to retake control of Judea for the Jewish people in 164 BCE, creating the Hasmonean Dynasty that ruled until 63 BCE. He restored the Jewish religion to its position in the land, rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem, and in a miracle that we remember forever, found one vial of oil that lasted eight days, restoring the eternal flame to the Temple.
We light the second grouping of candles for that which has happened in our time. Recently, I was in the Metropolitan Museum in NYC, and it is celebrating the Hanukkah Season with the display of an extraordinary Silver Menorah from Lvov/Lembourg , Poland, approximately 1866-72. My father’s family lived there at that time, so the Menorah had additional and special meaning to me for perhaps my family had actually seen this Menorah lit in its time and place. And I took note of its inscription from Psalms 36:10 , “With you is the fountain of life; by your light so we see light.”
A miracle of our time was our survival from the Holocaust, and the continuing growth of the Jewish people in Diaspora. And a most extraordinary miracle of our time has been the creation of the State of Israel, and its development over the past seventy years, a dream in the late 19th Century, a reality in the mid -20th Century, and a work in process taking us into the 21st Century and beyond. So, we light the second grouping of candles on the Menorah for the miracles of our time.
And what light do I see this year from lighting the other candles! It is the world taking note that there is a change, a world acknowledging and recognizing the new positioning of Israel. It has built a closer, more meaningful relationship with Russia, China, and some of the Arab, Muslim and African countries. Israel has economic and military strength, and significant cutting-edge breakthroughs in new technology, both in hi-tech, agriculture, water, and energy resources. And Israel has a culture and people learning, and taking its place in the world.
In the years ahead, with the One Israel I dream of, and the annexation of Judea and Samaria that I advocate for, I see a country that finally can move towards an Israel being secure, and becoming a true light unto the world. Without the constant disruptions, and terrorist threats by the Palestinians, I can see a true path for the Jewish people as well as a general uplifting of the Palestinian people’s quality of life, and recognition by them that they can be partners in Israel. And so, I see a bright future for Israel in the world community.
I see the opportunity for an extraordinary archeological exploration of Judea and Samaria in the years ahead, such that we can fully confirm, or interpret the stories of our people, as told in the Torah, or in our oral history. And as we move further ahead, both Jews and Arab Palestinians living together again in Judea and Samaria, as they did for many centuries, peace becomes more real, and the opportunities for all the people living in the land improves significantly. I can see a renewed spiritual revival for Israel, and one that they bring to the world.
And it is the hope that in lighting these final few candles, we have a renewed enlightenment of the American Jewish community, as well, a recognition that our soul comes from Torah, and our commitment to our people, its history and its laws, as well as tikkun olum, our service to all other peoples. We are an astonishing people in America, one of a handful of our most extraordinary civilizations in the history of our people. Freedom has served us well. Out of our current great divide, though, it’s time we found common ground again, and I see that in the shining light of the final candles in the Menorah this year, when we all stand together in unity with Israel.
With the lighting of the final candle, I look out to our future, the 100th Anniversary of the Modern State of Israel in 2048. Then, for the Jewish community, the story of their 3,000 year history in this land of Israel has truly come to life during the 2040s, as excavations near Shechem, Shilo, Hebron, Jerusalem, the Galilee and other places have continued to uncover the Biblical stories of our people . The techniques that were used in these architectural digs have been shared with Israel’s Arab neighbors, and ancient stories will have come to life, bringing tourists to all of Israel’s and its neighbor’s land, and bringing a cooperative venture in new wealth to all countries in this region.
I see that our dreams of today have become tomorrow’s reality. This beautiful land of One Israel, stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, I see with peace internally and with its neighbors. And I see hundreds of thousands gathering in Jerusalem, Jews, Arabs, and Christians together, to celebrate thie centennial of Israel. The people of the region will have found their shared history, and set aside the age-old fights that kept them divided. Through joint-ventures, new sources of water and energy will have been explored and developed that have become models for the world at large. With a population of Jews in Israel now exceeding 10 million people, the worldwide population of the Jewish people finally has exceeded pre-Holocaust levels, with over 19 million Jews in the world in 2048.
I see this Trump Era as one that makes us see more clearly again, and although I may have gotten ahead of today’s reality, it continues my optimism for the future. It’s my hope, and vision! We must stand strongly for the restoration of our entire Homeland, and I do think the time is right for it.
Howard Teich is an attorney and civc and cultural activist